GARDINER — A muddy track did little to slow the Hornet thoroughbreds.

Junior Damion Calder accounted for three touchdowns as the Leavitt football team raced off to a 27-0 win over Gardiner in a Class C South game Friday night at Hoch Field. Leavitt finishes its regular season at 7-1 in an effort to secure the top seed in the regional playoffs.

“We were preparing for it all week,” Calder said of the sloppy playing surface. “We were just ready for it. We practiced all week in bad weather outside and in the gym, catching all the balls.”

Leavitt quarterback Wyatt Hathaway threw three first-half touchdowns in the win, two of them to Calder. The sophomore Hathaway finished with 250 yards through the air, including 197 of those in the first 24 minutes, on a 15 for 24 passing night.

Calder caught scoring passes of 56 and 34 yards in the second quarter, the latter of which came in the final minute of the period. He also ran in for a 9-yard score to cap a nearly six-minute Leavitt drive overlapping the third and fourth quarters.

“On the muddy field, you can throw the ball,” Leavitt head coach Mike Hathaway said. “You know where you’re going, and they don’t. I thought we did a good job. Wyatt extended some plays, got his eyes down the field, and that’s really how we hurt them in the first half.”

“Once he gets out of the pocket, he’s electric with the ball. He can throw anywhere, and he puts it right in your hands,” Calder said.

Offensively it was a struggle for Gardiner’s offense from the outset. The Tigers (3-5) had just 41 yards of total offense in the first half, 16 of which came via senior Nate Malinowski’s 4th-and-long run on the final play of the second quarter. The second half was somehow worse for the home team, with just minus-7 yards gained.

“We’re trying to find the right pieces to make the machine go, and it’s tough sometimes,” Gardiner head coach Joe White said. “Right now, it’s like trying to fly a bicycle.”

Gardiner sophomore Noah Reed, after throwing incompletions on seven of his first eight passing attempts, finished the night just 3 for 19 for 23 yards. He missed on all seven of his second-half passes. Malinowski carried eight times for a team-high 24 yards rushing.

Mike Hathaway was more than pleased with his defense allowing fewer than 35 yards on the night.

“We figured 21 was the magic number,” he said. “We felt like if we got there, it was going to be a tough uphill battle for (Gardiner). Our defense is good, and we felt if we could get up a few scores and rely on our defense and play a little field position in the second half, that was the way to go.”

By contrast, White had little bad to say about his Tigers on the defensive side of the ball. Given how little the offense generated, it put a heap of pressure on the Gardiner defense — though the Tigers did come up with a turnover on downs to stop a possible Leavitt scoring drive in the red zone early in the third quarter.

“The defense played really well tonight, but the problem is they’re out there for so long,” White said. “One of the things I thought we did early really well was get them out of their routine, out of a rhythm and get them to make some mistakes. It’s tough to keep doing that when you ask kids to play so much defense.”

Calder’s 34-yard touchdown catch with 51.5 seconds remaining in the second quarter opened up a 21-0 lead for Leavitt. It came after Mike Herman caught a 10-yard Hathaway pass in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead and less than three minutes after his own 56-yard touchdown catch — the only play of that particular scoring drive — made it a two-touchdown Hornet lead.

“We had one game where (Calder) touched the ball four times and scored all four. He’s really explosive,” Mike Hathaway said. “Week to week, it could be any one of our guys, but we felt like he had a couple good matchups out there tonight and a couple of good runs.”

The field wasn’t the only thing to slow play Friday. A total of 23 penalties were handed out to both teams.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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